Pleasant Grove have nothing going for them except the fact they are, well, pleasant. Mellow to a fault, their acoustic rural rock says little and does little, but it’s not bad. It’s mostly ineffectual. One song ends and another begins, and you don’t even notice.
Out of the six songs on their self-titled release, not one stands out from the rest. The sleepy unity of these songs can’t quite be considered dull, but it is also far from exciting. The opening track, “Solid System”, with its slow guitar and gentle drums set the tone for the rest of the songs. Despite some pretty harmonies, the song never goes anywhere, and while the following track “Wide Open” picks up the pace a little bit, it also just sort of meanders along to an unsatisfying conclusion.
If any song on Pleasant Grove is worth noting, it’s the elegant “Nothing This Beautiful”, a sweetly simple love song. However, even this song suffers from the same problems the rest do—there’s nothing to keep the listener’s interest for long, much less for its 10 minute duration. Not even the inclusion of electric instruments keeps it from rambling too long.
Pleasant Grove plays and composes their music competently, so their problems do not seem to stem from a lack of talent. The songs seem like they were arranged with thought and care, and they are played with sensitivity. Even their lyrics, while they are not overly impressive, are adequate. On “Demonic”, lines like “Even though she’s taking all self-esteem, I’m coming back” serve the listless nature of the song well. However, the lyrics are hard to pay attention to since most of Pleasant Grove is hard to pay attention to. It’s just quiet noise in your ears and nothing more.
It’s almost hard to fault Pleasant Grove, though, since their music is gentle and mostly genuine. Unfortunately, anything they have to say (which doesn’t seem to be much) is lost in the fact that Pleasant Grove is a languid recording. It’s hard to know if they could’ve put more excitement into these songs, but one can’t help thinking it wouldn’t have hurt if they had tried.
// Notes from the Road
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